All about the Primrose boys

Johnny McQueen, aged 10, author of The Primrose Boys.

Johnny McQueen, aged 10, author of The Primrose Boys.

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Find out what it was like growing up in the Primrose area of Lancaster in the middle of the 20th century in an intensely local book.

The Primrose Boys was first written as a children’s book but has gone on to find great nostalgic appeal with many grown-ups.

The book was written by Johnny McQueen in 1980, who was a 32-year-old teacher at the time at Lancaster’s Castle School – now Central Lancaster High – and is loosely based on his childhood years in Primrose.

Johnny who sadly died from cancer last year, aged 66, recounts tales from the 1940s and 50s of exploding fireworks, daring rescues from Lancaster Canal and battles with the Moorlands Mob. Then there’s the story of The Great Robbery and the Zulu warriors, which ended up with a motley collection of Primrose rogues being fined for theft.

A burst of enthusiasm when teaching English to two sets of bright first formers in a mixed comprehensive school was the launch pad for Johnny’s book.

In the preface, he says: “I did not like the books that the English department had available for their pupils and the children I was teaching did not seem to either.

“I decided in a burst of enthusiasm that those children produced in me to write a book about my childhood for them. I centred it on my childhood at more or less their age. I scribbled out the first chapter during some free periods and read it to my 
two classes the following week. The children were hooked on it and so was I.

“I had to produce a fresh chapter each week to keep my pupils happy, and that is how I wrote my first ever book.”

The Primrose Boys is published by McQueen Publishing of Lancaster.